Restoring a Rain Forest

Welcome to the Clearwater Forest REserve

The Clearwater River runs cool and clear out of the Olympic Mountains, flowing into the Queets River, one of the Washington Coast’s most important wild salmon rivers. Restoration of ecological processes in this critical salmon spawning and rearing habitat is an important step to increasing the abundance and resilience of salmon in coastal rivers.

The Conservancy owns 5,835 acres along 38 lower miles of the river, a corridor of conservation around the river lowlands and terraces down to the mouth.

The reserve is focused on practicing sustainable, ecological forestry principles to experiment, restore, and provide natural resource resiliency. Conservancy foresters and ecologists have developed long-term plans that include planting trees, restoring important salmon and wildlife habitat, and implementing sustainable long-rotation timber harvest where it makes sense.

Aquatic ecologist Emily Howe on a tributary to the Clearwater. Photo ©Hannah Letinich

By restoring these forests, we’ll be able to secure a healthy future for salmon and the people who depend on them. This is not a rapid fix. Over the next century, your continued support will enable us to restore the forest so that it resembles more and more its former magnificence – and provides all the habitats needed by wildlife. This is active conservation that will provide jobs for generations and demonstrate how the same can be done in other vital salmon rivers.

This land on the Clearwater was the Conservancy’s first acquisition in the Olympic Rain Forest and launched a new effort to restore forests and rivers for salmon on the coast. Since then we’ve acquired about 10,000 acres on the Hoh River, and we are providing support to the Quinault Indian Nation in their efforts to restore the Quinault River. We’ve also been working further south on the Coast for nearly 20 years, at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve near Willapa Bay, where we’ve pioneered much of the rain forest restoration technique we are implementing in the Olympics.

The work on the coast is also part of a much larger effort—it’s part of the Emerald Edge, the largest intact coastal rain forest on Earth, spanning 100 million acres through Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Here with your support, The Nature Conservancy is empowering community-led conservation to protect old growth forests, wild salmon runs and a close-knit web of life, as the region faces unprecedented threats.  

Restoration includes thinning and planting trees to increase natural diversity, adding log jams and repairing culverts to create more salmon habitat, and fixing forest roads, which can wash out and deliver damaging sediment to streams. Local residents already benefit, with jobs related to the restoration. Two hundred years from now, big trees will once again thrive, along with the local communities.

A quiet day on the Clearwater River. Photo © Cameron Karsten

What to see and do:

Logging roads wind through acres that were once managed for timber production producing a patchwork of stand ages and ecosystem types. From lingering small pockets of old growth to young hearty stands of regeneration, from boggy wetlands to  bigleaf maples spreading their shade along the river, there’s a little bit of everything.

We keep this property open to outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and bird-watching access. However, this is a working forest and an active restoration site so you may encounter crews at work. Please do not block roads or gates, and steer clear of logging or construction activities.

  • Access beyond the gates is by foot only; motorized use is prohibited.

  • Hunting and fishing are allowed with all applicable state licenses.

  • Pets are allowed—please pick up after them and leash when wildlife is present.

  • Pack out any litter. Camping or campfires are not allowed.


Olympic National Park offers beautiful beaches, campgrounds and well-maintained trails through the rain forest.

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, South Beach campground

Queets River Rainforest

Quinault Valley


To reach the Clearwater Forest Reserve, drive up the Clearwater Road from Highway 101 where it crosses the Queets River.